RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: An Unexpected Father by Lisa Ruff


Title: An Unexpected Father
Author: Lisa Ruff
Publication Info: Harlequin 2010
ISBN: 9780373753079
Genre: Contemporary Romance

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.Avoriana chose this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge, and assigning the grade was the hardest part for her.

The dude is on a boat, I think. Ahoy (really, ahoy, get a load of that cover): plot summary! After a decade on the road, single mom Mimi Green gives up her rock star dreams and goes home to Crab Creek, Maryland. Her troubled son needs stability. Grandparents. A good school and friends his own age. She’s not looking for a new father for Jack—but when she meets Ian Berzani she may need the handsome sailor for herself!

When Ian nabs a nine-year-old trespasser in the family boatyard, he thinks, miniature rebel without a clue. One look at the kid’s mother and Ian’s thoughts veer into dangerous, uncharted territory. Mimi was tempting him to stay. The timing couldn’t be worse for a man three months, seven days and eleven hours from a lifelong dream of sailing around the world. He doesn’t want an instant family to change his plans, but how can he set sail and leave his heart behind?

And here is Avoriana’s review:

This book deserved to be nominated for its sense of place and the heroine’s relationship with her son.

The Chesapeake Bay location is very well done.  I could smell the salty sea air, with Crab Creek, the bay, the marina, and Mimi’s parents’ bar the Laughing Gull seeming very real.  The visuals of Jack learning to sail are cinematic.

I also liked Mimi and her son Jack’s relationship.  Both characters were very well drawn, with Mimi at a watershed moment in her life and Jack in danger of flunking out of school.  Mimi and Jack’s homework wars, and Mimi’s anxiety about alienating her son, were very real to me.

Ian, the hero, didn’t work for me and neither did his and Mimi’s relationship.  Ian is about thirty years old, lives in a great town, has a great relationship with his family and a good job, and is building a boat to leave and sail around the world for several years.  Why would he do that?  I could understand if he was 17, 21, or 25, but at this point in life unless he just got divorced or something he should have had his adventures and be thinking about how to contribute to his community.  He’s immature.

Mimi and Ian don’t interact enough to justify their growing feelings for each other.  The relationship feels junior high, the tone is too light, and Ian is too immature for their romantic story line to be successful.

An Unexpected Father is available at <a data-cke-saved-href=”<a href=” href=”<a href=” http:=”” http://www.amazon.com=”” exec=”” obidos=”” asin=”” 0373753071=”” trashybooks-20″=”” target=”_blank”>Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | AllRomance | Book Depository | WORD Brooklyn’s eBookstore | eHarlequin.com

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  1. 1
    ReneeK says:

    Great review!

    First, I just have to say that I am 30*cough*31*cough* years old and feeling a very strong “now or never” urge to pursue my (im)possible dreams.  I think 30 might just be the magic age of having the means to pursue dreams and still (possibly) being unattached enough to really put your all into them.

    I don’t usually read contemporaries, but I might enjoy this kind of story line.  Unfortunately, it sounds like he gives up his dream for insta-family and that would be a shade disappointing.  Or maybe it would be intensely gratifying.  I dunno.

    I guess I’m going to have to read it now.  I’m looking forward to the setting details you mentioned…I love that part of the country.


  2. 2
    Letty James says:

    ReneeK, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the ending. And keep reading Lisa Ruff. She gets better and better. Her latest, Baby Bombshell, is great fun—although gotta love the cover of An Unexpected Father. Lisa is the person who got me reading contemporaries again.

  3. 3
    Lori says:

    What ReneeK said about pursuing a dream at age 30. Sailing around the world isn’t a small thing and plenty of people wouldn’t have the resources to do it in their teens or 20s. An unmarried 30 year old is more likely to have the means and to be at a now or never point in his life. I don’t see how pursuing a dream when you can and it doesn’t hurt anyone is immature.

  4. 4
    Brigit says:

    I strongly dislike the reviewer’s assumptions about immaturity, adulthood and who’s allowed to make her/his dreams come true and who’s not.

    Many people I know reviewed their life in their late 20s/early 30s, and some made major changes. I did. Not many people do this in their late teen or early/mid-twenties, when many are either still in school, or haven’t finished their education (but then, that’s probably different in Germany), and haven’t yet found their way in life.

    I think ReneeK is right about the “now or never” urges.

    In new-agey terms, Ian is probably in the middle of his saturn return, and just beginning his adulthood… ;)

  5. 5
    ReneeK says:

    Okay, I downloaded “An Unexpected Father” AND “Baby on Board”.  I (usually actively) dislike baby-centric/pregnancy stories but I am intrigued (especially since I read the reviews at dear author) and a complete-ist.  Since the books are related, I have to read “Baby on Board” before I can attempt “An Unexpected Father.”

    I was tempted to just download “Baby Bombshell” too, but I have such a strong aversion to romance novels with bouncing babies on the cover that I couldn’t seem to do it.  I’ll wait until I’ve read the first two…if the first two Berzani stories are great, I’m sure I’ll be able to overcome my prejudice.

    But FIRST I have to finish “Yours to Keep”!  I took a chance on the Kowalski’s, back when “Exclusively Yours” came out and I haven’t been disappointed yet.  I keep saying I’m not a fan of contemporaries, but find myself pleasantly surprised again and again.

  6. 6
    LizA says:

    I agree with those who said that pursuing your dream at 30 was not immature. Why would it be? And why put a number on following your dream at all? Just because the reviewer does not understand this particular dream does not make it immature…. at any age. It would only be immature if he was to leave his family for this dream, but a single person?

  7. 7
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    I agree with what everyone else has said; there is nothing immature about pursuing your dreams, whether you are 13, 30, 67, or 93. You should never have to sacrifice your dreams just so you can “contribute to the community.” Sometimes a little selfishness is the best thing a person can do.

    I would read this book, except I’m afraid that the hero will give up his dream so he can be with the heroine (who has already sacrificed her dream). A book like that would just be too depressing.

  8. 8
    Geekgirl says:

    I’m afraid I have to pipe up about the insulting attitude that someone 30 or over is immature for following a dream as well. What sad and pathetic adulthoods we would all have if hitting 30 meant we couldn’t do something for the sheer thrill of doing it. I’d have only one thing to say if someone felt the need to judge my level of community involvement vs. my accomplishing of a dream, and that’s bite me.
    I have to agree with DreadPirateRachel . I know I won’t read this book because it will no doubt paint what a wonderful idea it is to give up your dreams for access to the magic hoo hoo.

  9. 9
    Ursula says:

    Just have to add my voice to the chorus that there is NOTHING immature about pursuing adventure and personal accomplishment at any age.  Sailing around the world on a boat you built yourself is a BIG frickin’ deal, and likely to be a crowning achievement for a sailor or boatbuilder—and since it sounds like “sailor” might describe the hero’s career, doing so might well give him big reputation boost and invaluable experience he can pass on to his fellow sailors, such as the heroine’s son.  But I guess practicing one’s craft and sharing it with others is an immature pursuit and doesn’t count as contributing to one’s community.

  10. 10
    Gail says:

    I read the book and enjoyed it (though not quite as much as Baby Bombshell—the baby itself isn’t really the focus of the book—I don’t think it shows up till the very end(and that is kind of an ugly baby, or at least not as cute as most of my grandbabies (Gabey wasn’t cute till he got past 6 months))—most of the story is about the pregnancy surprise). But, I think because of the hero’s situation—he’s determined to grab hold of his dream now because He Has Already Put It Off TWICE. Once to help his parents through some emergency, and once because he got married and his wife didn’t want to go. Then the marriage ended, and the emergency is over, and this is his chance.

    I think Ruff is contrasting the hero and heroine, because the heroine grabbed onto the chance to chase her dream. She’s been out doing the “budding rock star” thing, dragging her son along with her. She’s been chasing her dream a long time, and it hasn’t gelled into stardom, so she’s finally come home, to give her son some stability. Meanwhile, the hero has been deferring his dream for years and years—he was all set to go when he was fresh out of school, when his parents…got sick, I think. So the heroine understands about how strong dreams can be.

    @Geekgirl and @DreadpirateRachel Don’t pass up the chance to read this book. It’s a good one. And you will be happy with the ending. Really. Promise. :)

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